July 21st to 26th – Little Lakes Valley Mule Pack Trip
During this morning’s MidWeek Mountaineers hike in Wildwood Park (Thousand Oaks) I was asked several times how last week’s Sierra Club Angeles Chapter Mule Pack Section’s camping-and-hiking trip to Little Lakes Valley (which I co-led) went. I was also asked if I had any photos I could share, so here goes – – –
1) A map showing the location of Chickenfoot Lake in Little Lakes Valley in the John Muir Wilderness in the eastern Sierra Nevada (mountain range) about 20 miles southeast of Mammoth Lakes, CA (Hwy 395). Our hike to our base camp (10,800’) near Chickenfoot Lake began at Mosquito Flat (10,200’) at the south end of Rock Creek Road [shown near the upper end of the map]. We dropped our camping gear and food off at the Rock Creek Pack Station (9,875’) across from Rock Creek Lake (9,695’) and then carpooled to Mosquito Flat. Then we hiked with day packs (rather than much heavier backpacks thanks to the mules) to the base camp location.
2) An activity diary describing mostly hiking activities during the mule pack outing.
July 20th – Josephine Peak
While Les was high up in the Sierras (http://www.sierramulepacks.org/trips.html#trip1), riding somebody’s ass all morning, eleven intrepid Trail Blazers summited Josephine Peak. Les’ description warned us about a “use trail reportedly requiring some class 3 climbing,” but at the end, and our delight all we found was a short, single-track trail completing the final accent.
Josephine Peak was once the site of a fire lookout, erected in 1937. The structure was destroyed by the Big Tujunga Fire, in November 1975. The Peak was named for Josephine Lippencott, wife of USGS surveyor Joseph Barlow Lippencott. Its rocky top remains an active electronic communications site today. Our hike began behind a gate at the entrance to the Josephine Peak Fire Road (2N64), across the road from the Clear Creek fire station, at the intersection of Highway 2 and the Angeles Forest Highway. The trail was definitely up all the way following the relatively well-maintained fire road. As we gained elevation, the view continued to improve. Once on top, we found a very confused survey marker inscribed with “Mt Lowe F2A.” Spectacular views from this vantage point included the nearby Strawberry Peak, most all the peaks in the San Gabriel Mountains, San Gabriel Peak proper, Mount Lukens, and all of Big Tujunga Canyon. Wildflower season is rapidly coming to an end, but there was still a good number Heart Leaved/Climbing Penstemon and California Buckwheat in evidence. Several of us enjoyed tasting the California Blackberry. There were also several non-native species along the trail, including Eucalyptus Trees and Oleander bushes. Our up-and-back hike was a total of 8.3 miles, with 1.900′ of elevation gain. Every agreed is was a most enjoyable hike.
July 13th – Tierra Rejada Park
10 hikers met at Stargaze Park in Simi Valley on a pleasant (but forecast to be the beginning of hot summer days) morning. After assembling and preparing for higher temperatures, we headed north to the trailhead entrance into Tierra Rejada “Park” where we took a group photo. As we continued, there were lots of rabbits running in all directions.
When we reached the eastern end of an Edison Road we headed uphill to the west along it, enjoying widening views of the landscape as we gained elevation. Eventually we headed south along an overgrown path and then climbed west along an abandoned ridge road that afforded 360-degree views of the surrounding area. After taking a break in some sparse shade, by which time the temperature had risen considerably, we decided to forego the last steep uphill stretch to our usual turnaround point on another high ridge to the northwest. We mostly retraced our steps with the notable exception that near the end of the hike we followed a nearly level access road adjacent to the Arroyo Simi, thereby sparing ourselves from having to hike steeply uphill on the final part of the hike (by this time the temperature was definitely uncomfortable though there were occasional breezes). We reached our vehicles (and their air conditioning) having completed a nearly 7-mile hike with about 1,300’ of elevation gain, really glad that we had begun our hike at 7 AM. NOTE: Despite the heat and no rain for a while, there were still some blooming plants along our route, e.g., Cliff Asters, Purple Nightshade, Bush sunflower, Bindweed, Mexican Elderberry, Slender Leaf Milkweed, Tarweed, Vinegar Weed, Heliotrope, Coyote Melon, Giant Wooleystar, and Wild Rose.
July 6th – Mt. McCoy to the Reagan Library
15 hikers met at the carpool point near the intersection of Royal Avenue and Madera Road on an unusually cool summer morning and then (since trailhead parking is quite limited) walked from there to the Mt. McCoy trailhead on Washburn Street a few blocks to the west. The hike began along the trail heading south but it quickly began climbing gradually westward along the well-maintained (but frequently “cut” by bicycle riders) trail leading to the summit via a series of switchbacks.
As the trail rose up the mountainside, we were rewarded by a cool breeze and views of the western end of Simi Valley, including Sinaloa Lake, Wood Ranch, and the Bard Reservoir. There is a white concrete cross (erected in 1941) as well as two concrete benches at the summit, from which the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library can be seen. After a short break to enjoy the panoramic view of the not-yet-desiccated landscape (there were lots of buckwheat and cliff asters along our route), we hiked southwest to Presidential Drive and then hiked along it to the west side of the library where President Reagan was buried in 2004 (and Nancy Reagan in 2016). The setting of the library is quite beautiful. After a short rest/snack break, we returned the way we came, completing a nearly 6-mile hike with a little over 900’ of elevation gain/loss.